Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hawks rally past Buffaloes

Orix manager Junichi Fukura loses his final game at the helm

Kyodo

Right-hander Kodai Senga pitched seven innings and Shuhei Fukuda drove in the go-ahead run as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks came from behind to beat the Orix Buffaloes 6-4 on Friday.

The loss at sold-out Kyocera Dome was Orix’s final regular-season game, and the team’s last under manager Junichi Fukura, who had announced his resignation to take responsibility for the team’s performance.

Senga (13-7) allowed two runs — one earned — on six hits and two walks, while striking out three. He surrendered a run in the first inning, but held the Buffaloes scoreless until he had a 4-1, fourth-inning lead and allowed a solo home run to Masataka Yoshida.

With two outs in the top of the inning, Yuki Yanagita belted his 150th career home run, a solo shot into the left-field stands against right-hander Daiki Tomei (1-4).

Fukuda doubled in the go-ahead run after Tomei walked a batter and Nobuhiro Matsuda singled to put runners on first and second. Tomoki Takata closed the four-run inning by singling in two more runs.

Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Orix fought back to within a run. One scored on a passed ball by catcher Takuya Kai and the other on Takahiro Okada’s 13th home run.

The Hawks added another run in the top of the ninth on a squeeze by Kai, and Buffaloes infielder Eiichi Koyano, a three-time Golden Glove winner, went to the plate in the bottom of the inning and drew the curtain on his 16-season career — and the Buffaloes’ season — with a pinch-hit groundout.

The Buffaloes finished the season in fourth place in the six-team Pacific League with a 65-73-5 record, while the Hawks have clinched second place with three games remaining in the season. The Seibu Lions have already clinched the pennant and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have locked up third.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t meet your expectations,” Fukura told the crowd. “I’m going to leave the team, but the team is trying to rebuild itself. Young players have grown and we have acquired new talent.”

Buffaloes second baseman Shuhei Fukuda reached on an error and scored on Stefen Romero’s double to put the Buffaloes on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning.

Earlier in the day, sources said former Chiba Lotte Marines skipper Norifumi Nishimura will take over as Orix manager next season.

Marines 2, Eagles 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, right-hander Daiki Iwashita (1-2), who is playing in his fourth season, picked up his first pro win by throwing six solid innings in Chiba Lotte’s win over Rakuten.

The Eagles fell to their fourth straight loss.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 6, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Shotaro Kasahara (6-4) limited Hanshin to a run over 7-1/3 innings and Zoilo Almonte went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs in Chunichi’s win.